When I reading Gospel story about Nicodemus’ visit to Jesus, I connected with Nicodemus, who was very disorientated by Jesus’ ministry and his new teachings. In that story, he comes to Jesus to try and figure things out and get a handle on the new covenant that that Jesus is teaching. But, he is definitely lost. Even as Jesus begins to explain further to him his main purposes, in his bewilderment, Nicodemus asks, “How can these things be?” So, even thought Jesus is teaching from within the traditions of the old covenant, his new covenant to so different, that Nicodemus, a learned man in the old covenant, can not make immediate heads or tails of what Jesus is teaching, preaching, or proclaiming. He was feeling lost.
I think that the feeling of disorientation is a common feeling for most folks today. In our world today everything seems to be changing faster and faster. In terms of the environment, we are being bombarded by information about the increasing pressure and impact our human civilization is putting on the natural systems of our planet. In terms of how we relate to people, person to person, technology continues to redefine how we communicate with each other. Like television and like the telephone before it, digital communication is transforming our culture and context and by changing how we relate to each other. This fast paced change has increased our sense of disorientation.
So how do we get orientated again?
In this gospel passage, Nicodemus comes to Jesus and asks him questions but he gets answers that don’t make sense to him, at least right away. In that passage, we are left with the sense that Nicodemus doesn’t get it. But we know from Nicodemus actions much later in the gospel that his grasp and acceptance of the new covenant does in fact grow. After Jesus death, it is Nicodemus, in John’s Gospel, who helps Joseph of Arimathea to prepare Jesus body for burial.
If you are feeling disorientated or if the changing world around you has got you so turned around that you are left feeling lost, I encourage you to strengthen your faith and to let Christ be your compass. We might not always understand what we hear in the gospel message, or when we read the scriptures, but, in Christ and with Christ, direction will always become clear. Just like Nicodemus it might just take some time, time to ask some questions or time to think things through.
So for those who face disorientation in your life, and this is most important, let Christ be your compass. Because it is when you leave the safety of your church community and we end our time of worship together, than you enter the place where it is the easiest to get disoriented and lost. Out there, you and I have the least amount of control of how the world will change or what situations we may have to face. What we can count on to keep us from getting disorientated is our faith and the compass that is Christ. As Jesus told Nicodemus and he took it and pondered it in his heart, so we are given to take with us to guide us today, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”